Writing and Script: A Very Short Introduction

ISBN : 9780199567782

Andrew Robinson
176 Pages
111 x 174 mm
Pub date
Aug 2009
Very Short Introductions


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  • An appetizing first taste of the subject of writing and languages
  • Explains the origins of writing and how it developed, along with how it has been used over five millennia
  • Focuses on specific examples including the Roman alphabet and Chinese characters

Without writing, there would be no records, no history, no books, and no emails. Writing is an integral and essential part of our lives; but when did it start? Why do we all write differently and how did writing develop into what we use today?
All of these questions are answered in this Very Short Introduction. Starting with the origins of writing five thousand years ago, with cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphs, Andrew Robinson explains how these early forms of writing developed into hundreds of scripts including the Roman alphabet and the Chinese characters. 
He reveals how the modern writing symbols and abbreviations we take for granted today - including airport signage and text messaging - resemble ancient ones much more closely than we might think. 


1: Writing and its emergence
2: Development and diffusion of writing
3: Disappearance of scripts
4: Decipherment and undeciphered scripts
5: How writing systems work
6: Alphabets
7: Chinese and Japanese writing
8: Scribes and materials
9: Writing goes electronic
Chronology: 3300 BC to AD 2000
Further reading

About the author: 

Andrew Robinson is a Visiting Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge and holds degrees from Oxford University and the School of Oriental Studies, London. He is now a full-time writer who has worked in book publishing, television and journalism, most recently as Literary Editor of The Times Higher Education Supplement from 1994-2006. His previous publications include The Story of Writing, The Man Who Deciphered Linear B: The Story of Michael Ventris, and Lost Languages: The Enigma of the World's Undeciphered Scripts.

"User-friendly survey." - Steven Poole, The Guardian

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